The Security Council today extended the mission of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan for another year, calling on Governments to increase its current strength of 120,000 troops to counter growing terrorism by the Taliban and Al-Qaida.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, similar to last year’s call when the force numbered barely half its current strength at 67,700, the 15-member body recognized “the need to further strengthen ISAF to meet all its operational requirements.”
It voiced strong concern at “the increased violent and terrorist activities by the Taliban, Al-Qaida, other illegal armed groups and criminals, including those involved in the narcotics trade, and the increasingly strong links between terrorism activities and illicit drugs.”
At the same time it urged ISAF, led by General David Petraeus of the United States which supplies some 80,000 troops, and other partners to speed up training of self-sufficient, accountable and ethnically-balanced national Afghan security forces to ensure security and the rule of law throughout the country.
Recognizing the interconnected nature of the challenges facing Afghanistan and stressing the need for progress on security, governance, human rights, rule of law and development as well as the cross-cutting issues of counter-narcotics, anti-corruption and accountability, the resolution called for further Government efforts to fight corruption, promote transparency and increase its accountability.
It expressed serious concern at the increased high number of civilian casualties, particularly among women and children, the large majority of them caused by Taliban, Al-Qaida and other extremist groups, and urged ISAF and other international forces to continue to undertake enhanced efforts to prevent civilian casualties.
It also voiced strong concern at recruitment and use of children by Taliban forces in Afghanistan as well the killing and maiming of children.
While noting advances in security sector reform, the Council called for further progress by the Government in ending impunity and strengthening judicial institutions, including reconstruction and reform of the prison sector, the rule of law and respect for human rights including for women and girls, and in particular women’s rights under the Constitution to fully participate in the political, economic and social spheres of Afghan life.